How to Stop Corruption in the Indian Judiciary?
Are only the Legislature and the Executive to be blamed for Corruption? Is the Indian Judiciary Corruption Free? Our Content Editor, Abhishek Choudhary a 4th year B.B.A LLB Student at K.R.Mangalam University enters into the arena of Corruption in the Indian Judiciary and attempts to find out the instances and suggest some reforms.
“Corruption is just another form of tyranny’ -Joe Bidden
Corruption is a plague to the society and has caused denial of justice and basic rights to many beings by inculcating unfair and impartial trials. Judicial corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gains and is a menace to society, as it fractures the working of the society and also neutralises the effect of law on citizens. There are two types of judicial corruption:-(a)Political interference in judicial processes, which refers to manipulation of the justice system by politicians with strong influence, (b) Bribery i.e. giving/taking money for a favour/undue advantage.
Instances of Impeachment of Judges in India
Accounts of corruption in India have been frequent, which is evident from the fact that judges have been often impeached but to hide from the ignominy they often resign. First such case came in light in 1993, when impeachment proceedings were initiated against Justice Ramaswami of the Supreme Court on allegations of corruption during his tenure as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. However, impeachment proceedings lapsed after introduction as motion failed to get 2/3rd majority in Lok Sabha.
Then again, in 2011, Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court avoided the ignominy of becoming the first judge to be impeached by Parliament by tendering his resignation, he was found guilty of misappropriating money under his custody as a court appointed receiver in the capacity as a lawyer. In, 2011 Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, Justice P.D. Dinakaran against whom Rajya Sabha Chairman had set up a judicial panel to look into allegations of corruption, resigned in July 2011, before impeachment proceedings could be initiated against him. Recently, the four senior most judges held an unprecedented press conference and had grievances with the assignment of cases by the CJI Dipak Mishra and how he was assigning cases and as a result Congress party also moved a motion to impeach the CJI but were unsuccessful in the attempt. All these instances, give us a brief overview that the Indian judiciary is certainly not free of corruption and that there is undeniably corruption in these levels.
After ascertaining the fact that there is corruption in the Indian judiciary, we need to focus and shift our minds toward the ways and reforms that can be implemented to curb such malpractice. Indolence in the Indian judiciary and evidences of corruption have been mentioned by the ‘Global Corruption Report of 2007 published by ‘Transparency International and Cambridge publications’. It stated the evidence of judicial corruption by referencing the Supreme Court decision in the 2002, Gujarat communal riots by acquitting persons close to the party in power and acquittal of 9 people involved in the 1999 murder case of Jessica Lal because one of the accused was the son of a politician.
“Criminal justice succumbs to money and power’ wrote the former Supreme Court Justice, V.R. Krishna. There is a loss of confidence for the justice system in the eyes of the public due to delayed disposal of cases and complex procedures and high corruption. The cause of corruption is delayed process, because people are then prompted to pay ‘speed up money’. At the current rate of disposal it would take another 350 years for disposal of the pending cases even if no other cases were added. Ratio of judges is abysmally low too. This degree of delays and corruption has led cynicism about the justice system and this erosion of confidence will cause citizens to seek shortcuts through bribery, favours, hospitality, etc.Former Chief Justice of J.S. Anand in 2005, ‘Delay erodes the rule of law and promotes resort to extra judicial remedies with criminalisation of society…speedy justice alone is the remedy for the malaise’.
There are a number of reforms that can be implemented to achieve a corruption free judiciary and curb existing practices and they are as follows:
1. Increase the number of judges, as this would result in the speedy process and enable quick remedy to the citizens.
2. Judicial accountability so as to the courts are made answerable to the public.
3. Codes of Conduct, an attempt was made by the Conference of Chief justice in 1996 which resulted in a code of conduct being adopted by a full court meeting of the Supreme Court under the title ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life’.
4. Court record management should be upgraded and courts should be equipped with technology so that all the legal documents and cases are updated online regularly, this will indeed help in transparency.
5. There should be financial aid to the judges so that they are not succumbed to take any bribes any sort of economic vulnerability should be removed.
A Judicial Standard and Accountability Bill, 2010 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 1st December, 2010. The bill was introduced by the minister of law and Justice, it requires judges to declare their assets and also of their spouse and children, it further lays down judicial standards to remove Supreme Court and High court judges. The bill also established a National Judicial oversight Committee, the complaints scrutiny panel and an investigation committee and any person can make a complaint against a judge to the oversight committee on grounds of misbehavior. This bill has not been passed yet because it poses an issue about the balance between the independence and accountability of judiciary.
In all, the current system is degraded and needs to change, corruption practice need to be stopped at any cost, judges are given immense power and such power should not be misused, the country is in desperate need of a legislation which balances the accountability and independence aspect of the Judiciary. The Judges are equalizers, and the should not bow down to the media, military, religions, money or media. They should always prevail rule of law and stand with justice all the time.
ZahiraHabibullah Sheikh v State of Gujarat, 2004 AIR SCW 2325; 2004 (4) SCC 158. See also www.frontlineonnet. com/fl2111/stories/20040604003029700.htm  Times of India (India), 7 March 2006  From the report of the conference and workshops on ‘Delays and Corruption in Indian judicial system and matters relating to judicial reforms’, organised by TI-India and LovSevakSangh, in New Delhi 18-19 December 1999. Letter to the Prime Minister of India on 7 April 2005, reproduced in South Asia Politics, vol. 5, no. 1 (2006)